Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Digon Base (DBASE.WAD)


Part two of Callum Guy Oliver's "Raw Action" series, Digon Base is a five map minisode for Doom II, designed for ZDoom. Like Oliver's Corebinder, the mapset features good ol' fashioned Doom II gameplay with sparing use of most of its monsters. Similarly, there's no given story, though the naming of the maps themselves suggest Doomguy's passage through various "provinces" before arriving at a gate. Are these sections of the eponymous Digon Base? Perhaps he's crashing a number of Hell-held outposts on the way to the base, his ultimate destination. Really, it's just speculation on my part. Let's get down to facts.

Virtually all of Oliver's maps here are medium-size, and they're all in a techbase style. He uses switch-based exploration in levels where the traversable area slowly expands with the push of every button. He tends to use these "expansions" as methods of introducing more monsters into the playable area, cutting out such transparent gameplay elements as monster closets and keeping things fresh as the teeming hordes are usually already clamoring for your blood. This helps keep the constant running around entertaining as you're never quite sure what you'll find in the next room.

Compared to Corebinder, there's a definite improvement in mapping quality. Every level appears to be balanced for pistol start, though in a few situations you'll have to be scrappy. Texturing and detailing look far better than Oliver's freshman release, creating a more aesthetically pleasing experience, though detailing is in general quite sparse compared to today's standards. It reveals quite plainly that his chief concern is utility; no detail, no cranny makes an appearance without serving a purpose in Oliver's design. Digon Base is a fun diversion for Doom II and, excepting a few mandatory uses of jump, is virtually indistinguishable from any rough-around-the-edges map made for vanilla Doom. If you thought Corebinder was unworthy of your attention, give Digon Base a try.



DIGON BASE
by Callum Guy "phobosdeimos1" Oliver

MAP01Klaag Province
This is a medium-size dark techbase level composed mostly wide-open areas. It unfolds like a puzzle-box, with areas from all sides of the map becoming available as you traverse the area and flip switches. It got some flak for being less than straightforward, but I didn't find it confusing in the least. The detailing is a little bland but the overall effort shows more competence than Oliver's Corebinder and the fights are just as good, though this map is restricted solely to the Doom bestiary. Cool moments: The four ships on the space dock and the wave of thugs teleporting in about three quarters of the way into the map.

Bellows WasteMAP02
This is a tricky little map populated with fourteen hell knights, set in some sewers. The tools are ample enough to get the job done but not before you do some dodging about. A BFG "secret" greatly hastens things along once you've gotten through the rougher bits. No real standout moments; the map is more an exercise in monsters as obstacles to be circumvented rather than abolished. It's a fun exercise, though.

MAP03Derringer Province
Another medium-size techbase level, this one emphasizing more cramped quarters. Oliver has a good hand at co-apting the areas he opens up for further exploration as monster closets used to inject monsters into already-cleared areas. There's also a nice sewer section toward the end of the map that helps break things up. Demon encounters are fairly sedate excluding one particular room with several cacodemons and ringed by imps, my standout encounter. The same room also houses the first ZDoomism of the mapset, requiring you to jump across a gap to access a teleporter on the other side. All in all, a good, clean map.

Dook ProvinceMAP04
Another medium-size techbase much in Oliver's style. Differences include some more integrated sewer sections and more apparent use of jumping, required to get up some platforms to the blue key, or to access the shotgun at the map's beginning. Fights are a bit more intense with more difficult situations cropping up, including an arch-vile and a swarm of cacodemons near the end of the map. The rationing of health combined with nukage and tougher monsters creates some precarious situations when trying to conserve damage taken. There's also a few fights where some tougher enemies are placed on the high ground forcing you to accept their presence while dealing with the troops on ground level, the one involving several hell knights being my standout moment.

MAP05Endiss Gate
A bit larger techbase than the others, but difficulty is considerably higher starting from scratch. You'll need to do a good deal of ammo conservation via infighting and berserk-punching. Oliver pulls the stops out here, utilizing a dozen revenants and several tricky arch-viles as well as a Cyberdemon at the mission's climax. As with all his maps, there's a fair bit of running around, but the effects of your switch-pulling usually manifest themselves in obvious locations. Overall, it's a tough challenge, though significantly easier if you carry over even the few items brought from MAP04. A fun way to end the WAD.

DEGENERATE IN EUCLIDEAN SPACE

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